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Masako Katsura: The “First Lady of Billiards” Who Broke Barriers

Masako Katsura is a name that might not be familiar to many nowadays, but she was a significant force in 1950s Japan and made history in billiards. She broke barriers in a male-dominated sport, despite the odds stacked against her, becoming one of the first women to break into professional billiards. Read on to learn more about this inspiring woman and her achievements!

Introduction to Masako Katsura

Masako Katsura was born in Osaka, Japan, on March 8, 1927. She began playing pool at age 15 and quickly became one of the best players in the country. In 1947, she won the Japanese National Championship, becoming the first woman to do so.

Katsura then turned her attention to billiards, and in 1949 she became the first woman to win the All-Japan Billiards Championship. She would win this tournament five more times over the next decade. In addition to her success in Japan, Katsura also had some wins in international competitions.

During her career, Katsura faced discrimination both as a woman and as a foreigner. Despite this, she persevered and broke down barriers for female athletes in Japan. She retired from competitive play in 1959 but remained an active billiards promoter until she died in 2013.

Early Life and Rise to Fame as a Billiards Player

Masako Katsura was born in Osaka, Japan, on October 10, 1925. Her father was a successful businessman, and her mother was a homemaker. As a child, Katsura was exposed to the game of billiards by her older brother. She quickly took to the sport and began practicing at a local pool hall.

Masako Katsura’s natural talent for billiards soon led to success in local tournaments. In 1939, at 14, she won the Osaka Women’s Billiards Championship. The following year she captured the All-Japan Women’s Billiards Championship, becoming the youngest player ever.

The early 1940s were a golden era for Katsura, as she dominated the Japanese women’s billiards scene. She won eight straight All-Japan Championships between 1940 and 1947 and claimed victory in the first-ever Asian Billiards Championship in 1945.

In 1948, Katsura embarked on a professional career in the United States. She quickly made a name for herself on the American pool circuit, winning several prestigious tournaments. In 1950, she became the first Asian woman to win the World Three-Cushion Carom Championship – an event she would win four more times over her career.

Katsura returned to Japan in 1952 and resumed her dominance of the national billiards scene. She won eight more All-Japan Championships between 1952 and 1960 before retiring from competitive play.

Accomplishments and Achievements

Masako Katsura was a world-renowned billiards player who broke barriers in s Japan. She was the first Japanese woman to compete in the World Championships, and she went on to win the event three times. In addition to her world championships, Masako also won the All-Japan Billiards Championship seven times. She retired from competitive play but remained an active member of the Japanese Billiards Association and an ambassador for the sport of billiards.

Challenges Faced by Katsura in a Patriarchal Society

As a woman in a patriarchal society, Katsura faced many challenges in her career. She was not taken seriously as a player and was often underestimated by her male opponents. This made it difficult for her to get the sponsorships and support she needed to compete at the highest level. In addition, she was not allowed to play in most major tournaments because they were restricted to men. She had to work harder than her male counterparts to prove herself a top player. Despite all these obstacles, Katsura persevered and became one of the most successful players of her generation.

Legacy of Masako Katsura

Masako Katsura was a world-renowned billiards player who broke barriers in s Japan. She was the first woman to win a major international billiards tournament and the first Japanese person to be inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame. Katsura’s legacy continues to inspire female athletes and pool players worldwide.


Masako Katsura is a remarkable woman whose influence continues to be felt in billiards today. Despite tremendous adversity, she achieved immense success during her career and paved the way for women’s equality in Japan. Her legacy inspires all who strive to reach greatness despite any obstacles that may stand in their way. We can learn a great deal from Masako Katsura’s incredible story and are forever thankful for her accomplishments.

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